At one time, the Summerland RCMP detachment more resembled a haunted house than the hub of community safety.
Plastic sheets were put up to protect computers from rain, an active beehive was in the ceiling, prisoners were taken through the building past unarmed support staff, and eventually the cells were condemned. Last Friday, that all changed. After years of working in the cramped and aging facility, Summerland RCMP members have a new detachment on Pineo Court.
“I thought a few things. This building was not safe for the people who work here. Number two, that the very people who risk their lives for us deserve better from us, and number three, given the shape of this decrepit old building, this is going to be such an easy breeze to get a new detachment built,” said Summerland Mayor Janice Perrino, recalling a tour she had taken of the detachment in 2000 as a new councillor. “It was not so easy.”
It took over 12 years, a span of four mayors, five municipal councils, three municipal administrators and three community referendums.
In the fall of 2010, the community finally decided to allocate money to build a new RCMP detachment. Residents felt so strongly on the matter, Perrino said it drew more voters than the 2011 municipal elections.
Estimated at $4.5 million to build, with a completion date of April 30, the project came under budget by $1,070.50 and just two months overdue.
“I wish we could have come in a lot more under, but there are very few projects in Canada that actually come in on budget. This is really on budget, and you know what, two months late isn’t that late,” said Perrino.
Insp. Brad Haugli, officer in charge of the RCMP South Okanagan Similkameen region, said the RCMP recognize they couldn’t have moved into this new home without the support of the community they serve.
“Today marks years of planning, consultation and action that has created a true legacy for the community of Summerland. It is not lost on us that our previous home was built in 1975 as a restaurant pub, then was converted to a detachment to meet our policing needs at that time,” said Haugli.
“Our new facility is an outstanding building that is state of the art.”
The new detachment will house nine dedicated members, two municipal staff and a number of volunteers. The building is designed to have a lifespan of at least 50 years. It will eliminate the need for Summerland RCMP officers to drive their prisoners to the Penticton detachment to be housed.
“With this ability, we now have the members able to book in the prisoner and get right back into the community to provide the policing the community residents expect,” said Haugli.
Sgt. Mona Kauffeld of the Summerland detachment thanked the community for their support, including the Citizens on Patrol who created bumper stickers that showed their approval for a new detachment to be built and handed them out to the community to help raise awareness.
“This new building symbolizes a wonderful connection to the people that we serve in this community. This relationship is key to our ability as an organization to ensure safe homes, safe communities, as we work together to overcome challenges and build upon community successes. Our members, employees and volunteers are proud to serve the residents of this community. This building is where we will work from, but it is indeed your detachment,” said Deputy Commissioner of E division Craig Callens, who applauded the community for having one of the lowest crime rates in the province.